Sunday, November 18, 2012

Driving is not a right

As published in the Daily Post.

The Sunday morning Monitor reminded us of just how close we came to killing some children at the Montessori School on Canyon Road. Why? Because as County Engineer Kyle Zimmerman tells us, our safety is held hostage by a few "irrational" drivers.

Not only do we not control them, but it seems difficult to even know who the people are who are trying to kill us, including another driver who crashed the same week on Main Hill Road while, according to the Daily Post, driving aggressively and passing another vehicle. Often, we don't even know if the motorists were even cited!

Perhaps the first level of dealing with dangerous drivers is not to ask the County to spend more money on traffic studies to change speed limits, but to arrest and prosecute reckless and careless drivers, put their faces in both newspapers, and take away their driver's licenses. After all, these are often not "accidents" caused by bad weather or poor facilities. They are caused by deliberate risk taking - because there seems to be no risk to being held accountable by the community.

Driving is not a right. When you abuse your driving privileges and endanger the community, you must lose that privilege. 

It's about time we made that stick. Preferably, before there is innocent blood spilled in the road.

Added later, just here:

Indeed, the driver who narrowly missed all those students at the Montessori School could have been as effective a killer as the Aurora, CO shooter. I wish we would take driving seriously. Instead we treat it casually, with predictable results.

In these two cases, the Daily Post told us both drivers were teens. I therefore hold the parents equally responsible for not teaching their children to take driving seriously. Or, for that matter, taking other things seriously. Recently, a teen bicyclist riding on a sidewalk (in a business district signed as private property where bicyclists are not supposed to be riding on sidewalks) plowed into a local storekeeper's door. Fortunately, no one hurt, but its not a huge leap of logic to see where a careless teen on a bicycle will end up in a couple years.


Steve A said...

Rights are not absolute, nor are privileges things that our government can arbitrarily restrict. Instead both fall along the same spectrum and often get confused with each other. I've written a post on this months ago, but never posted it. Thanks, Khal...

Ian Brett Cooper said...

Steve, I don't think restricting, or taking away, driving privileges from reckless drivers can really be said to be arbitrary.

Apart from that, I agree with you - rights are not absolute. Motorists, after all, did at one time have the right to use their vehicles on the road. That right was taken away and replaced with the privilege when people got fed up with the death toll they caused on the roads.

Steve A said...

Ian, I don't think I claimed that restricting reckless drivers was arbitrary. Neither are requiring drivers to drive on the right side of the road and have reasonable vision. Speech is also restricted where it puts others in danger, such as the classic case of yelling "fire" in a crowded theater.

davistrain said...

The problem is that even though driving is legally a "privilege" granted by the state and revocable under the same vehicle code, the DMV and the courts are apparently reluctant to suspend or revoke that privilege unless the offense is egregiously bad. In most places outside of a few major cities (e.g. New York and San Francisco) forbidding someone to drive is seen to be, as one commentor put it, "Like placing the person under house arrest." I remember my first wife (now deceased) who "would rather die than take a bus or taxi to the hospital" and who had the "I will give up my car when they pry my cold, dead hands from the steering wheel" (no, she didn't die in a highway collision). Compare this with Germany, where (so I've been told) getting a driver's license approaches the rigorousness of earning a private pilot's license.